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BBC's growing gaming interest spurs new Jane Austen fiction

"We can create new interactive paradigms." Robert Nashak, BBC Worldwide Americas

Jane Austen
Jane Austen

A new bit of Jane Austen fiction hits e-readers later this year thanks to the BBC and their growing interest in video games.

A new bit of Jane Austen fiction hits e-readers later this year thanks to the BBC and its growing interest in video games.

"State of Affairs" will tell the story of a niece of Jane Austen's coming to the novelist's estate after her death in a quest to find the manuscript for Persuasion, a novel that was published posthumously in 1818.

The short story was created by one of BBC Worldwide's game writers to run in concert with the release of the company's upcoming Jane Austen Facebook game: Jane Austen Rogues & Romance.

Robert Nashak, executive vice president of digital entertainment and games for BBC Worldwide Americas, told Polygon that the Facebook title is just the latest in the BBC's blossoming move into gaming.

Nashak, who previously served as a vice president at Electronic Arts, was brought into the BBC in 2010 to oversee the company's gaming strategy.

"They decided they wanted to double down on gaming," Nashak said.

Over his short tenure, the BBC has already tried its hand at mobile games, Facebook titles, a partnership between the Xbox 360's Forza Motorsport and television show Top Gear and, most recently, a Doctor Who game for the PS3 and PlayStation Vita.

As the BBC continues to accelerate its efforts in gaming, they also work to evolve them.

The latest attempt to achieve that is Jane Austen Rogues & Romance. While on its surface the Facebook game is about finding hidden objects in Jane Austen settings, it is driven by an interesting story designed to guide players through Austen's six novels.


In the game's back story, players chase Pride and Prejudice's Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy through the pages of the books. Eventually the couple need to be convinced to return to their novel.

The book also allows players to share quotes from Austen's works, leave calling cards with friends, host receptions and pursue courtships through unique manors granted to players.

The fanciful approach to the game is driven by BBC's desire to increase the social interaction among fans of the brand, Nashak said.

"We wanted to come up with a light fun thing that would appeal to fans of Jane Austen," he said. "We wanted to be the first to bring Jane Austen to Facebook."

That's the kind of thing I'm talking about ... we can create new interactive paradigms.

Nashak said that that other efforts include working with the producers of the their shows to create new games at the same time they're creating new television.

"We're asking ourselves, ‘What can we do to create new forms of television?'" Nashak said.

The end result, he hopes, would be along the lines of the Torchwood: Web of Lies, a motion comic created in conjunction with Torchwood: Miracle Day that used some of the actor's voices.

"The writers wrote it, the actors voiced it," Nashak said. "We released episodes as the ten weeks of the show released.

"That's the kind of thing I'm talking about. It's not just traditional games, we can create new interactive paradigms."

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